The Bavarian town of Amberg is in shock after a group of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iran rampaged through the city Saturday night. Four attackers aged 17 to 19 randomly beat exiting passengers at the train station, and then moved to the city center to continue their rampage.
According to reports, the attackers shouted “kafir” (a derogatory term meaning “non-Muslim,” “unbeliever”) and “n*****” at some victims.
In all, 12 victims ranging from ages 16 to 42 needed medical attention. A 17-year-old victim was treated for severe head wounds.
German authorities announced that at least two of the attackers have already had their asylum claims rejected, and that at least one should have already have been deported. This has prompted German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to demand changes to deportation laws, as Deutsche-Welle reports:
Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said asylum-seekers who commit violent crimes must leave the country, after a group of apparently drunken teenagers attacked a dozen people in the Bavarian town of Amberg.
“If existing laws are not sufficient, they must be changed,” Seehofer told Wednesday’s edition of Germany’s Bild newspaper. “The events in Amberg are very troubling. This is excessive violence, which we cannot tolerate.”
Seehofer — the leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) party, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats — said that he would make suggestions to the federal government. Seehofer had already made similar proposals in mid-December for the beginning of this year.
The accused are currently being held in pretrial detention on charges of causing dangerous bodily harm.
Rainer Wendt, the head of Germany’s police union, called on the federal government to make a statement with this case.
“The federal government must take a stand on this case,” Wendt told Bild.
He also criticized authorities for saying the motive of the four suspects was unknown. “I’ll tell you the motive,” he told Bild. “It is deep disdain for our nation and the people who live among us.”
Afterwards, Amberg’s Mayor Michael Cerny has appeared more concerned about Facebook comments in reaction to the incident and in defending the reputation of asylum seekers than about the violent rampage that had taken place on his watch.
“I can understand the insecurity seen in some of the reactions of some Ambergers, but the hatred and the threats of violence from all over the country go way too far,” he told the local daily Mittelbayerische Zeitung.
According to the München Merkur, an 18-year-old Iranian attacker who has no passport was already facing deportation proceedings and should have let the country in February 2018.
Another one of the attackers, an Afghan, cannot be deported under current rules because he is 17. The Bavarian state government is now asking federal authorities to lift the ban on deporting violent minors.
A third attacker, also an Afghan, had received an asylum refusal letter in May 2017, but then filed an appeal that was still being considered by the Bavarian Administrative Court. Meanwhile, he has enrolled in a local culinary school.
A fourth attacker, another Afghan, is still having his asylum claim processed. The state government has now requested an expedited determination in his case.
The anti-immigration AfD party called for their immediate deportation.
One 17-year-old victim told Bild:
They cursed one of us as n***er and hit us immediately. We wanted to run away, but they caught up with us at the traffic light. There were at least six people. Three of my friends were beaten, and I was beaten down and kicked.
The rampage began at the train station, where travelers exiting the train were punched several times in the face. The attackers then moved inside.
Another victim, 29-year-old Marco Steck, described what happened:
In the train station hall, four guys looked at us. Suddenly, the biggest of them came out and kicked a 13-year-old boy who was standing next to me with one foot in the stomach. Just because. I was really stunned.
Several people ran into a shop at the train station, and a saleswoman locked the doors. “People immediately told me that they were attacked, everyone was scared.”
“Such people do not deserve to be here,” the saleswoman angrily added.
The perpetrators then left the train station and attacked bystanders in the city center, injuring nine there. A restaurant manager who came to aid a woman who was being harassed received a headbutt from one of the attackers.
Local media reported that the four men do not live in Amberg. One lives in Auerbach, another lives in Regensburg, and two do not have a permanent residence.
Complicating matters further, members of the far-right NDP party have shown up in town wearing red vests and conducting “safety patrols.”
Interior Minister Seehofer told the media today that he intends to present a bill later this month for faster deportation of rejected asylum seekers, and that his ministry is working on a constitutional amendment for more effective deportations.